Archive for February 24, 2015

WESTERN SENIOR COREY HINKLE EARNS STATE RUNNER-UP HONORS AT 182-POUNDS

W Corey Hinkle 2

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. – No matter how you look at it, Corey Hinkle had a stellar season. Unfortunately, under the bright center light at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the stellar season ended with a loss in the 182-pound weight class at the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals.

The match had all of the makings of an instant classic as No. 1-ranked Chase Osborn of Penn battled No. 2 Hinkle of Western. Both were undefeated seniors looking to take home a state championship medal. In the end, Osborn got the best of Hinkle in an 8-6 thriller.

In an action packed first period, Osborn (39-0) attacked first, and 40 seconds into the match held a 2-0 lead on a takedown. Hinkle scored on an escape three seconds later and took the lead at 3-2 on a takedown of his own 69 seconds into the match. The first period ended in a 3-3 draw after the Penn wrestler scored a point on an escape.

The second period slowed and played more strategically. Osborn earned the only point on an escape at the 48-second mark to hold a 4-3 lead after two.

The final period proved to be the difference-maker. Eight second in, Hinkle (47-1) knotted the score at four with an escape. But midway through the stanza, Osborn put the match away with four points on a takedown and nearfall. Hinkle added two points on a reversal with 29 seconds left, but the Penn wrestler went on defense and laid flat on the mat to earn the state championship.

Hinkle, who finished third last year, earned a trip to the championship after a 4-3 win over Andrew Davison of Chesterton and a 10-3 victory over Gage Garpow of Winamac. Hinkle graduates as the winningest wrestler in Western history with 164 victories.

Ellis earns podium position, Wright qualified

Eastern sophomore Evan Ellis earned an eighth place podium finish at 220-pounds. He lost to Warren Central’s Courvoisier Morrow 7-2 in the quarterfinals. He lost 2-1 in overtime to Avon’s Gunnar Larson and fell in the seventh place match 4-2 to Cathedral’s Ryan Guhl.

Kokomo sophomore Jabin Wright lost 18-3 in the opening round on Friday night to Cathedral’s Skylour Turner at 113-pounds.

DEAN’S LIST: OFTEN UNSEEN, ATHLETIC TRAINERS PLAY VITAL ROLE IN LIVES OF STUDENT-ATHLETES

THE DEAN’S LIST

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

In the first round of the McCutcheon girls basketball sectional, Kokomo and Marion locked horns for a thrilling 3-point win for the Lady Giants. Action on the court was a typical, intense North Central Conference battle that came down to a final shot – which the Lady Kats missed.

But while the game was exciting, everyone in attendance will remember what happened when the clock stuck on 1:27 for nearly 20 minutes at Resler Gymnasium. In a split second near midcourt, Kokomo’s Quaynika Merriweather lunged for the basketball at the same time as Marion’s Vironnica Drake. The result was two star players crashing heads and falling to the floor in what was the worst on-court basketball collision I have ever witnessed.

Drake looked forward in stunned disbelief as blood flowed from her head while Merriweather lay crumpled on the floor with blood pouring from her mouth. Understanding the severity of the collision, the officials immediately stopped play and trainers from Kokomo, Marion and host McCutcheon rushed to the aid of the fallen players. While a hushed crowd looked on, these trained medical personnel worked to stabilize Merriweather and Drake as school administrators talked to the parents and coaches calmed their teams.

Drake was able to sit on the bench after about 10 minutes, and eventually walked out of the gym with the help of the Marion trainer for a trip to the emergency room. It took nearly 15 minutes for Merriweather to be helped into a wheelchair and slowly moved off the floor – and eventually onto a gurney for an ambulance ride to the ER. Both should have full recoveries – Drake ended up with a deep gash to the side of her head while Merriweather suffered severe face and mouth trauma.

After the game, several of us talked about the quick reaction of all involved, and how fortunate schools are to have trainers on hand to deal with emergencies. When the two players collided, five trained medical professionals were at their sides within seconds (McCutcheon had three trainers on site).

“We are very fortunate with the athletic staff we have that is provided by Community Health and Replay,” said Kokomo Athletic Director Jason Snyder. “It is great being able to have someone here for practices and our sports; it takes a ton of time. But they also take care of tournament games on the road. It was traumatic enough for Q as she was lying there, but having someone she knows and trusts care for her was extremely important.”

All five Howard County schools have contracts to provide medical services to its athletic teams. Gone are the days when a teacher or coach would slap some pre-wrap and athletic tape on an ankle. Most of today’s athletic trainers are certified health care professionals who dedicate their careers to student-athletes.

“The importance of student-athlete safety is a priority; it is our No. 1 priority,” said Snyder. “There has been a heightened interest due to the concussion situation. Having trainer’s on-hand make these types of medical decisions essential; it is out of the hands of coaches and parents. They truly care about our athletes and want to be around them. They are highly skilled and are ready to take charge – we are blessed.”

Training staffs can be taken for granted. Most fans see them sitting on the end of a bench and tending to a sprained ankle or jammed finger. But as fans of Kokomo and Marion saw last week, they are ready to spring into first aid mode without notice. Parents, coaches and administrators should be happy Howard County has some of the best athletic trainers around. So the next time you see one, say thanks – they deserve it.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana and sports editor of the Kokomo Herald. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.

COUGAR TIME: IU KOKOMO EARNS FIRST-EVER KIAC POST-SEASON BERTH, LAWRENCE AND KNUPP HONORED

IUKMBB Jared Lawrence, Jace Thompson, Aaron Knupp 2

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – It was a stellar weekend to wear the crimson red and gray of IU Kokomo as the Cougar men’s basketball team punched its ticket into the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tourney. They also celebrated the careers of its first four-year players on Senior Night.

“Being able to play in your conference tournament is a big deal,” said Cougar men’s head coach Jace Thompson. “Picking up that crucial win when we needed it most is a huge step for this program.”

On Feb. 13, the Cougars hosted Pittsburgh’s Carlow University, earning a spot in the KIAC tourney with a 77-61 victory.

“Good team win tonight. Everyone did his job and executed efficiently,” said Thompson. “We are excited to be playing some of our best basketball at this time of the year. We were able to take another step in the process of building a great program.”

The Cougars jumped to a 37-23 halftime lead – thanks in part to 12 points from senior Jared Lawrence and 10 from center Micah Pier – and led by 27 with 14 minutes left in the game. Thompson then pulled his starters and cruised to the victory.

Pier, a Maconaquah graduate, led the squad with 16 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Beau Dedmond scored 13 while Lawrence and Stephen Calhoun had 12 each.

“J.T. Hurt (six assists) had a great game and gave Jerome (Campbell) some much needed rest,” said Thompson. “I’m happy to see him play well late in the year. We passed the ball well, including the second team who handled all of the trapping well in order to put away the game.”

The following night, IU Kokomo put together a winning-streak with a shocking 96-85 victory over Point Park University from Pittsburgh on Senior Night. The Cougars never trailed and the rest Thompson gave Campbell paid off as the junior guard nearly had a triple double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals.

“Tonight was our overall best effort for the season,” said Thompson. “Everyone executed our game plan on the defensive end.”

Kokomo led 47-34 at the half thanks to nine 3-point baskets – five from Nick Teeter and two each from the squads only seniors – Aaron Knupp and Lawrence. Kokomo increased its lead to 23 early in the second half, but Point Park battled back and cut the lead to 85-80 with 3:42 left. Teeter hit a pair of free throws to put the Cougars up 89-83 with 2:22 left, and Knupp sealed the win with a late 3-pointer to give the program its 10th victory of the season – another IUK first.

Lawrence finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, Teeter dropped in 23, Pier scored 19 (all in the second half) and Knupp finished with 11.

After the game, Thompson honored the program’s first four-year lettermen as pioneers in the Cougar program.

“I’m really proud of our seniors and the example they have set for everyone,” said Thompson. “Their leadership is evident in how much the guys on the bench respect them.”

Lawrence and Knupp – who both hail from Springport and played together at Blue River Valley High School near New Castle – are the only players remaining from the inaugural 2011-2012 squad that played its home games at Western High School’s auxiliary gym. While the program saw growing pains through its four seasons, everyone agrees the tourney berth was due in part to the Springport Boys dedication to the young program.

“They mean the world to this program,” said an emotional Thompson. “Four years ago, they took a visit and we had an office in the student affairs department and had no gym, no basketballs – nothing. They committed to helping us build this program and there will never be two people more important to this program than these two guys.”

When the season ends, Lawrence – who earned KIAC Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the Cougars conference sweep – will depart as the programs all-time leading scorer (1,132 points) while Knupp is on the verge of joining the 500-400 club (547 points and 394 rebounds).

The Cougars (10-18, 4-8 KIAC) travel to Rio Grande University on Feb. 17 to close out its regular season.